Truth Code: space
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα space. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα space. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, 17 Μαρτίου 2017

Getty Images
By Neil Bhavsar

The Debate

When many people look at the stars, they see a vast, unbound infinity that fills them with a feeling that’s difficult to describe but impossible to forget. That feeling pushes humanity to want to explore the great unknown reaches of space in the hopes of discovering that we aren’t alone in it.

But let’s assume for one moment that extraterrestrial life does exist. Should we really be trying to contact it?
Some view the idea of reaching out to extraterrestrials as dangerous. In fact, Stephen Hawking made a strong point against the idea of making contact by comparing it to the Native Americans’ first encounter with Christopher Columbus and the European explorers, a situation that “didn’t turn out so well” for the former civilization. Hawking went on to note that advanced alien life could be “vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

While that does sound like it could be a possibility, not everyone agrees with Hawking. In fact, many have equally convincing arguments in support of contact with aliens.

Nothing to Lose

To some, the question is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we want to meet other intelligent lifeforms?  That’s the thought shared by the people at the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute. In fact, SETI is now far more proactive in its search for alien life than ever before.

Initially, the organization focused on passively looking for signals indicating signs of intelligent life, but now it is taking action in the form of METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). METI International sends greetings to specific locations in space in the hopes of alerting alien astronomers of our existence.

Though Hawking and others worry that our interstellar friendship search will lead to the annihilation or subjugation of our species as a whole, Douglas Vakoch, the president of METI International and a professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies, strongly disagrees with this assertion. He believes that claims that we should hide our existence as a species are unfounded. After all, we have already leaked nearly 100 years of transmissions from radio and television broadcasts as electromagnetic radiation.

Vakoch goes on to note an inconsistency in Hawking’s reasoning. He asserts that any civilizations able to travel between stars will absolutely have the ability to pick up our “leaked” signals. By that logic, they must already be aware of our existence and are simply waiting for us to make the first move. Vakoch urges us to test the Zoo Hypothesis and the Fermi Paradox through standard peer-review methods, insisting that we target nearby star systems 20 or 30 light-years away with repeat messages to generate a testable hypothesis within a few decades.

NASA estimates that there are 40 billion habitable planets in our galaxy. While he strongly urges caution in making first contact, even Hawking is curious as to whether any of those planets beyond our solar system host life. To that end, he has launched a $100 million initiative to seek out life. If we ever do find extraterrestrial life, either through Hawking’s search, SETI, or any of the number of other projects in the works, we might just want to take a beat before saying “Hello.”


References:, SETI
Continue reading

Τρίτη, 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

New and strange footage from NASA’s live feed of the International Space Station appears to show six large objects scurrying by. This is not the first time this sight has been seen, but this instance contains unique characteristics.

As you can see in the live video below, relayed by the American space agency, the objects flying by move from the right of the screen towards the left. Unlike previous instances where only 1 object comes into frame, this video contains six UFO’s that are resulting in n outcry for explanation from viewers.

The phenomenon was originally spotted by a UFO enthusiast at Streetcap1 who shared the clip with the popular YouTube channel called SecureTeam10. They are a group of UFO experts who track down clips, investigate footage and put their findings out to an eager audience online.

Referring to the ISS UFO clip below, Tyler from SecureTeam said: “He has discovered what some are calling a fleet of unidentified flying objects moving in the distance behind the International Space Station.”

“We have about six UFOs passing behind, and judging from the distance, I would guess that the size of these objects, whatever they are, would be fairly large.”

“Much larger than Nasa’s typical excuse of ice particles, we must be looking at icebergs.”

Tyler goes on to explain that NASA suspiciously cut the live feed and replaced it with a feed from another ISS camera showing the inside of a briefing room.

Not The First Time

There have been a number of instances where NASA has cut a live feed as unexplained objects enter the cameras field of view.

Back in January of 2015, NASA cut the feed after video showed a small grey object slowly rising and then disappearing. There is no saying whether it’s an extraterrestrial space craft or not, but it’s unidentified and curious that NASA would cut the feed right at this time.

Again on July 9th 2016 another video from the International Space Station feed shows an object entering earth’s atmosphere and moments later the feed is cut. Once again,  we cannot say this is a UFO or whether it’s manned, but there is an unidentified object and yet again NASA cut the feed.

Most explanations from NASA lean towards these objects being a meteor, space debris, or ice but once again we see secrecy and highly coincidental timing.

Take a look at the video below. Do you think it is a real UFO? Or is there some other explanation?

Continue reading

Κυριακή, 4 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

Alain r/Wikimedia

Stephen Hawking's new theory could reconcile the information paradox. The proposition states that black holes have a halo of "hair" surrounding their borders, which record signature patterns of everything the black hole swallows and releases them into the universe when the black hole dies.


One of the greatest enigmas of our time revolves around understanding black holes. The vague term “singularity” is often tossed around to feign a sense of understanding of a topic that has perplexed more than just Matthew McConaughey’s character in Interstellar; therefore, it would come as no surprise that  one of the most notable physicists has another bit of knowledge on the matter.

When Stephen Hawking proposed the concept of Hawking radiation in 1974, he opened up another topic for debate: The black hole information paradox.
Information Paradox. Nature Publishing Group
He theorized that some energy escapes black holes continually, that whenever it swallows something, some electromagnetic radiation is emitted. This means that, over time, the black hole will eventually disappear, leaving only the Hawking radiation as the trace that it ever existed.

The black hole information paradox exists because, based on Hawking’s calculations, the radiation emitted does not contain any information about the history of a particular black hole’s “diet” throughout its existence. He also said that all information on the insides of a black hole is destroyed.

Uh oh.

The problem with the hypotheses is that it contradicts the common laws of quantum mechanics: information cannot be destroyed. Meaning that, the information has to go somewhere, and giving so, the paradox came to life.

In January this year, Hawking made an announcement saying his first calculations were wrong and that he has formulated a new theory that would give sense to the information loophole. He posted a preview of the theory for people to probe.

He identified two things in his original assumption were wrong: (1) that the vacuum in quantum gravity is unique, and (2) that black holes have no “hair.”


Not only are black holes severely powerful and mysterious, apparently they also have hair. Although, to be clear, the black hole hair is not exactly hair as we commonly know it. They are low-energy quantum excitations that form a halo of “soft hair” around the event horizon.

But like actual hair, Hawking’s freshly published paper proposes that the hair holds records of what the black hole consumes. He believes they carry signature patterns of everything the black hole swallows, which they release back into the universe when the black hole dissipates.

However, University of California physicist Gary Horowitz has doubts: “First, the analysis must be repeated for gravity, rather than just electromagnetic fields. The authors are currently pursuing this task, and their preliminary calculations indicate that the purely gravitational case will be similar,” he says. “More importantly, the soft hair they introduce is probably not enough to capture all the information about what falls into a black hole.”

While the idea needs a lot of work to validate, it’s a step that would hopefully pave the way towards understanding black holes, and putting the information paradox to rest.

References: ScienceAlert

Continue reading

Παρασκευή, 25 Νοεμβρίου 2016

For one Syrian couple, taking photos on their wedding day meant confronting a far more serious and saddening part of their lives: The destruction of their hometown, Homs.

Homes is one of the most heavily damaged cities in Syria, almost totally destroyed by the war. It's heartbreaking to see such a massive city after such destruction, but Nada Merhi and Hassan Youssef wanted the city to play a role in their wedding photos for a special reason: To show that life and the people living it are stronger than death and despair.

Merhi and Youssef pose for a photo on the streets of Homs. Youssef is a Syrian army soldier.

Photo Credits: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
The photos are jarring, but also give insight into what life is like in Syria right now.
Though their city is in ruins, this couple is showing us what it means to press forward in life, despite the circumstances.

The photos were intended to show that the power of love is much stronger than the sorrow that comes from war and death.

The couple and the photographer definitely achieved their goal: When we look at these images, it's hard to ignore the destruction. And yet, what the viewer takes away from these wedding photos isn't devastation: It's a young couple, in love, and ready to start their lives together.
Continue reading

Δευτέρα, 21 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Huge flare from small star. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger

Carole Mundell, University of Bath

The search for mysterious “fast radio bursts” – very brief but intense pulses of radio waves from outer space – is heating up. Nobody knows what causes these powerful bursts, but some have even speculated that the signals could be transmitted by distant alien civilisations. In fact, astronomers are so perplexed by the phenomenon that it is driving a renaissance in radio astronomy.

Now an international team of astronomers has detected the brightest ever fast radio burst. Dubbed FRB 150807 after its discovery date, the burst of intense radio waves lasted less than half a millisecond – that is 0.1% of the time it takes a human to blink. And the study, published in Science, has come closer than any before it to pinning down where the blip came from. The research comes just days after another study reported having seen a fast radio burst together with an outburst of gamma rays, extremely energetic electromagnetic radiation.

Despite their intensity, the nature and origin of fast radio bursts is still hotly debated. Some astronomers have suggested these brief, intense flashes are flares produced in the atmospheres of certain stars in our own Milky Way galaxy – a process similar to solar flares. Others argue they are caused by cosmic collisions such as a neutron star (a collapsed core of a large star) colliding with a black hole in a distant galaxy, or speculated that they could be alien signals.

The first fast radio burst – the Lorimer burst – was discovered serendipitously by radio astronomers using Australia’s Parkes telescope to search for pulsed radio emissions from spinning neutron stars called pulsars. The Lorimer burst remained a curiosity until other fast radio bursts at different positions in the sky were discovered by other telescopes such as the giant Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the 100-metre Greenbank dish in the US.

But progress in understanding this enigmatic phenomenon has been slow. This is partly down to the short duration of the bursts, the limited resolution provided by the telescopes and the uncertainty of the sky positions of the bursts. Trying to discover a burst and, at exactly the same time, pinpoint accurately where in the sky it comes from is difficult. If a radio signal could be backed up by telescopes that are searching for other kinds of electromagnetic radiation (such as X-rays or the kind of “optical light” that we can see), we could measure the distance and understand the physics processes driving these events. If the processes driving these bursts are similar to those responsible for other cosmic explosions, such as gamma ray bursts, astronomers suspect that radiation at other wavelengths is likely to be emitted in the same event that caused the fast radio bursts. But it’s proven difficult to catch.

Indirect estimates of distances have been made by measuring how the radio signal is smeared out. This can help infer the amount of material the light has travelled through. From this, the distance of the fast radio burst from Earth can be estimated, using a variety of assumptions such as the amount of matter between us. Such measurements have indicated that the origins of fast radio bursts lie far beyond our galaxy.

Tracing the blip

FRB 150807 is remarkable for its short duration, radio brightness and high degree of linear “polarisation” – a property describing the plane of the vibrations that make up the waves. Combining these properties, the new study suggests that the burst occurred in a galaxy over a billion light years away, identified by the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) Hemisphere Survey. This is the closest we’ve ever got to pinpointing where a fast radio burst came from.

The polarisation of light is affected by magnetic fields surrounding it. So knowing that helped the researchers estimate the magnetic properties of the plasma through which the radio waves travelled. Their analysis suggests that there’s only negligible magnetisation of plasma close to the burst site. Interestingly, if this is correct, it would rule out strongly magnetised objects such as young neutron stars, magnetars or other objects causing it – favoured models so far.

Artist’s impression of the 5km diameter central core of antennas of the Square Kilometre Array, which will help shed light on fast radio bursts. Swinburne Astronomy Productions for SKA Project Development

This study shows that as the small number of recorded fast radio bursts grows and their properties become better known, the exciting prospect of understanding what produces them becomes increasingly feasible. They could also be used to map out the magnetic fields in the universe – something we know little about. The next breakthrough may come with the first detection of a visible counterpart or optical afterglow, from which we can measure an accurate distance.

It may happen sooner than you think, given the other recent study’s tantalising report of possibly the first detection of a gamma-rays burst coinciding with a fast radio burst with NASA’s Swift satellite. If the two bursts do indeed come from the same source that would be very exciting – it could mean this source is lot more energetic than we had anticipated.

Analysis of FRB 150807 predicts that these events should not be rare – with 190 occurring across the sky per day. Future facilities such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope – which will survey the entire night sky every few days at optical wavelengths and the radio equivalent – and the Square Kilometre Array will revolutionise our view and understanding of these mysterious blips and the violent, ever-changing universe in which they live.
The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Continue reading

Τετάρτη, 16 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Dr. Hideaki Fujiwara - Subaru Telescope, NAOJ

A new instrument known as CHARIS was able to isolate light reflecting from an exoplanet — a fairly difficult feat, given that these planets are dimmer than the stars they orbit.

In total, there have been 3,537 exoplanets in 2,653 planetary systems and 596 multiple planetary systems confirmed – CHARIS will only help that number grow.


A team of scientists and engineers at Princeton University just gave exoplanet research a long-needed boost. Using a new Earth-bound instrument, the scientists were able to isolate light reflecting from far-out exoplanets.

This new instrument is known as CHARIS, an acronym for Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph. It was built by a team led by N. Jeremy Kasdin, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. CHARIS features nine mirrors, five filters, two prism assemblies, and a microlens array. It weighs 226.8 kg (500 lbs), and is maintained at -223.15 C (50 Kelvin, -369 F).

Credits: N. Jeremy Kasdin,
et al. / Princeton University
According to the team, CHARIS was able to isolate light reflecting from an exoplanet — a fairly difficult feat, given that these planets are dimmer than the stars they orbit.

“By analyzing the spectrum of a planet, we can really understand a lot about the planet. You can see specific features that can allow you to understand the mass, the temperature, the age of the planet,” researcher Tyler Groff explained.


Exoplanets are planets found outside of the solar system, orbiting another star. We owe most of our success at finding exoplanets to the Kepler space telescope.  But apart from where they are located, there really isn’t much we know about them.

CHARIS can help change that. It has been more than three decades since the first known exoplanets were discovered in the 1990s, and our fascination with them has only increased – especially since they could potentially support life (as a future home for us or a current one for extraterrestrial civilizations).

“With CHARIS spectra we can now do a lot more than simply detect planets: we can measure their temperatures and atmosphere compositions,” said Olivier Guyon, faculty member at the University of Arizona and head of the adaptive optics program at the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, with which CHARIS works in conjunction.

Exoplanet research is bound to get even better in the next couple of years, with the capabilities of CHARIS, together with the Subaru Telescope, and with the James Webb Space Telescope’s scheduled launch in 2018.

“There is a lot of excitement,” said Tyler Groff, a member of the Princeton research team currently working in NASA. “[CHARIS] is going to open for science in February to everyone.”

Continue reading

Κυριακή, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2016


Two scientists from the University of Rochester and the University of Washington have developed an “archaeological form” to the famous Drake equation, which will allow us to determine how many technological civilizations have formed in the history of the universe. And it seems there may be a number of them.


Are we alone? It is, perhaps, one of the most significant questions human beings have ever asked—right up there with “Why are we here?” and “How did it all begin?”

Indeed, as soon as we understood that the universe was not circumscribed by the Earth’s horizons, but extended outward for unfathomable distances and contained within its compass innumerable worlds like our own, we began to wonder whether we are unique and alone, or if there might not be others out there—like us, and yet very unlike us.

The famous “Drake equation,” formulated by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, sought to establish a mathematical, probabilistic framework to understand the question of whether or not humanity is really alone in the cosmos; it used a number of ingenious terms to estimate the number of technological civilizations in our galaxy.

The problem with Drake’s formulation was that three of those terms, in particular, were just too uncertain to permit a reliable estimate.

According to Adam Frank, astronomy and physics professor at the University of Rochester, and a coauthor of the paper (appearing in the journal Astrobiology): “We’ve known for a long time approximately how many stars exist. We didn’t know how many of those stars had planets that could potentially harbor life, how often life might evolve and lead to intelligent beings, and how long any civilizations might last before becoming extinct.”
Infographic of the Drake equation and its new “Archaeological form” addendum.
Credit: University of Rochester


Recent exoplanet research, particularly with the Kepler Space Telescope, has constrained the first of these terms, determining that about one-fifth of stars possess planets within their habitable zones.

That leaves the second and third terms—the probability for advanced life to evolve, and the longevity of technological civilizations—but Frank and his colleague, Woodruff Sullivan of the University of Washington, simply altered the math a little. They eliminated the second term by calculating the odds against humankind being the only advanced civilization in the universe; and they dismissed the third by formulating a “cosmic archaeological question”—how often does intelligent life evolve throughout cosmic history?

Their new equation, which they call the “Archaeological form” of the Drake equation, looks like this—Nast x fbt.

Nast, the number of habitable planets, is defined as Nast = N* x fp x np, where N* is the total number of stars, fp is the fraction that form planets, and np is the average of those planets circling in the habitable zones of their parent stars. The second term of the Archaeological form equation, fbt, is defined as the likelihood of an advanced technological civilization arising on one of these habitable planets.

The results suggest that humankind is only likely to be unique if the odds of another civilization developing on a habitable world are less than one in 1022.

That’s a very—some might say improbably—small number.

“To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology producing species very likely have evolved before us,” says Frank. “Think of it this way: before our result you’d be considered a pessimist if you imagined the probability of evolving a civilization on a habitable planet were, say, one in a trillion. But even that guess, one chance in a trillion, implies that what has happened here on Earth with humanity has in fact happened about 10 billion other times over cosmic history!”

Continue reading

Τετάρτη, 2 Νοεμβρίου 2016

If the technology is achieved, this would enable the craft to reach Mach 24; that’s 12x faster than the Concorde and 24x faster than the speed of sound.

Continue reading

Τρίτη, 25 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Rich galaxy cluster imaged by Hubble. NASA, ESA, M.J. Jee and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)

Since its discovery in 2008, astronomers have been puzzled by a cosmic mystery so vexing that it has even led some to question whether the general theory of relativity – Einstein’s masterpiece theory of gravity – is wrong on cosmic scales. The trouble is that light travelling through the universe does not seem to be affected by the gravity of large structures such as galaxy clusters in the way that Einstein had predicted.

Now we have created the largest ever map of the universe’s voids – empty regions or “holes” in space – and superclusters, which are regions with more galaxies and matter than average. This has proven Einstein right, but has reintroduced another mystery.

To understand the origin of the puzzle, we need to grasp the subtle effect that gravity has on the leftover radiation from the primordial hot plasma at the birth of the universe, known as the “cosmic microwave background”. This radiation has been travelling through the universe for 13.8 billion years, before finally being picked up by instruments on the Planck satellite – allowing us to create temperature maps that have been crucial in understanding the universe. On their journey, the light particles, or photons, of this radiation have encountered both voids and superclusters in the universe.

Einstein’s theory tells us that light experiences the effects of gravity just like matter. When a photon enters an empty void, it at first loses energy due to the greater attraction of the mass behind it. After crossing the halfway point, it then gains energy again due to the pull of matter on the other side. The net effect is similar to the change in speed a runner would experience if she ran up and down an intervening hill on her route.
Distribution of galaxies where each point is an individual galaxy, colours represent their distance from Earth.  Sloan Digital Sky Survey
But what if the size of the hill changed while she was running? In fact, the universe is expanding, which stretches the “hill”, reducing its height while the photon is crossing the void. The analogy with our runner would be if she had to run further uphill than downhill on the other side: she’d slow down more going up than she sped up coming back down. Similarly, photons from the cosmic microwave background passing through voids lose a tiny bit of their energy in the process, thus appearing very slightly cooler. Conversely, photons passing through superclusters appear very slightly hotter than normal. This is called the “integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect”.

However, in 2008 a team of astronomers from the University of Hawaii attempted to measure this effect. To do so, they first identified 50 individual voids and superclusters each in the distribution of galaxies in the sky, and then measured the average temperature of each type of structure using Planck’s cosmic microwave background map. Sure enough, the radiation appeared colder when seen through voids than through superclusters. However, the apparent size of the effect was more than five times larger than predicted by calculations.

This apparent drastic failure of the theory has proved very hard to understand. Alternative theories proposed to explain it have included a completely new model of the Big Bang, a different interpretation of the properties of “dark energy” – the theoretical form of energy causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate – or even an overhaul of the theory of gravitation itself.

One mystery solved – another reopened

An important step to the resolution of the puzzle was made with our new paper, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. My colleague Robert Crittenden and I decided to approach the question from a different angle – instead of thinking of ways to explain the original measurement, we tried to see if the effect still held in newer data.
Temperature fluctuations in void regions (left) and supercluster regions (right). Blue is the coldest and red the hottest. The patches span 20 degrees on the sky
To do this, we used data on more than three-quarters of a million galaxies gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to build the largest ever map of voids and superclusters in the universe. This contains more than 300 times as many superstructures as used in the 2008 study. This, combined with improvements in the statistical techniques used for the measurement, allowed us to measure the tiny temperature changes in the cosmic microwave background map caused by these superstructures with unprecedented precision.

We found that the results were exactly as expected if Einstein’s theory were correct. The newer, more powerful data simply no longer support the old Hawaii result. This conclusion can be tested again when more data become available in the future, such as from the Dark Energy Survey. But for now, the puzzle appears to be no more. Our theories of the universe survive another day.
A map of the CMB temperature fluctuations over the whole sky. The unusual cold spot region is circled at the lower right

But in resolving one problem, however, we have reopened another – to do with a very large and unusual “cold spot” in Planck’s map of the cosmic microwave background. This spot was first noticed in 2004, and its physical origin has been a puzzle, since the odds of such a large and cold region appearing in the sky by random chance are small.

One line of speculation held that it might be caused by the gravitational cooling effect of a giant supervoid. And indeed, in 2015 astronomers found evidence of the existence of a large void in the right part of the sky – which was thought to be the biggest such hole in the universe. This was viewed as settling the argument: surely this void was the proximate cause of the cold spot.

Unfortunately, more detailed calculations showed that – if our theory of gravity were correct – the supervoid that had been found was still far too small and too shallow to explain the cold spot. If something were wrong with the theory, as the Hawaii results were suggesting, both puzzles could have the same resolution.

But our results using the new map of superstructures have now spoken in favour of Einstein. So the supervoid cannot be the explanation for the cold spot.

So while we have solved one mystery, we are back to square one when it comes to the origin of the cold spot. This is a typical development in the pursuit of science. However in the long run, we are certainly moving forward at rapid speed. It’s an exciting time to be an astronomer.

Marie Curie Research Fellow in Cosmology, University of Portsmouth
Continue reading

Πέμπτη, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2016

According to Michael E Bakich, Senior Editor at Astronomy magazine, Aug. 21, 2017, “may turn out to be the most popular vacation-day request in history.” But why?

On that date, for the first time in almost a century, the United States will witness a total eclipse of the Sun. The Sun will vanish for about two and a half minutes, commencing in Oregon around 10:15 a.m. local time, then moving eastward, finishing its astonishing show an hour and a half later in South Carolina. And in between, the phenomenon will be visible from Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains national parks, from St. Louis and Kansas City and Charleston, S.C., and the many points in between.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon positions itself directly in front of the sun, completely covering it for a brief period of time. The entire sky then darkens, allowing you to look right at the Sun (or with solar viewing glasses if it is not completely covered). Viewers witness an astounding corona encircling the Sun, stars shining bright, the horizon glowing with a 360-degree sunset, a drop in temperatures, and, ultimately, the odd reality of day unexpectedly turning off its lights and momentarily becoming night.

If you’re already marking your calendars, you might also want to grab yourself a map to find a spot where the eclipse will be total. But mind you, hotels, lodges, and campgrounds along the 50-to-70-mile-wide path of “totality” have already been booking up since May, simply because it’s the type of rare event one may only see just once in their lifetime, if at all.

In fact, the last time a total eclipse was visible coast to coast was June 8, 1918. The event made front-page news nationwide. And if we’re given this many months in advance to get it together, it must mean the eclipse is worth calling out of work for, turning off the TV for, and putting down your iPhone for, and simply observing something so magically awe-inspiring, that, in our day and age with our over-stimulated brains, actually captures our attention for more than 30 seconds and holds us present in the moment.

“Everyone who sees a total solar eclipse remembers it forever,” said Norm Sperling in the August 1980 issue of Astronomy magazine. “It overwhelms the senses, and the soul as well — the curdling doom of the onrushing umbra, the otherworldly pink prominences, and the ethereal pearly corona. And incredibly soon, totality terminates.

“Then it hits you: ‘It was supposed to last a few minutes — but that couldn’t have been true. It only seemed to last eight seconds!’”

Bakich notes in “25 tips to plan for the 2017 eclipse” that if you want to see it, you need to plan accordingly, or you’re likely to miss out. And along with ditching work, Bakich also suggests the following:

  • Concentrate on the sky so you don’t miss totality, which will seem like “the shortest two and a half minutes of your life.” Keep your attention on the Sun, and nowhere else.
  • Look for the approach of the Moon’s shadow if you are at a high elevation, or even a good-sized hill. You may be able to see its shadow appearing along the ground from the northwest to the southeast. “This sighting isn’t easy because as the shadow crosses the U.S., it is moving at a minimum of Mach 1.5 (1,151 mph, 1,852 km/h) and a maximum of Mach 3.5 (2,685 mph, 4,321 km/h),” he says.
  • Get yourself eclipse glasses. The cardboard kind with lenses of optical Mylar are less than two dollars, while #14 welder’s glasses are also a safe solar filter, and cost around two dollars as well.
  • Find a friend with a solar telescope, so you can point out sunspots, irregularities along the Moon’s edge, and more.
Continue reading